Thursday, April 4, 2013

"Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed."

On this Second Sunday of Easter, April 7, 2013, we always hear the Gospel of Doubting Thomas proclaimed. This Gospel always leaves us pondering two main questions: “Why do we have doubts?” and, “Why do we have faith?” This Sunday is also Divine Mercy Sunday. Our Discussion Questions this week will guide your bible study sessions with your family, friends and church groups.

Doubts and Faith

In each of the New Testament accounts, Jesus appeared first to women, not to men. In each case the women believed. Usually he then sent the women to the males, who in each case did not believe. Fr. John Foley, S. J. says this was Jesus' way of asking the disciples to take a leap of faith. And just like the disciples, today we also find our faith subjected to the many buffets inevitable to living in a secular society. Fr. Alex McAllister SDS explains how we also frequently wonder if all we were taught was true.

"Peace be with you; do not be afraid," Jesus tells the disciples. He offers evidence, but in the end he asks for an act of faith. Fr. Phil Bloom tells us that this act of faith must be absolute. There is no middle ground. And we have this faith, says Fr. Joseph Pellegrino, because we have experienced the Love of God in our lives as individuals and as a people.

We often assume that those who knew Jesus in the flesh had a great advantage over the rest of us. However, Fr. Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B. assures us that the risen Lord is far more present to us now in the Spirit than he ever was in the flesh. It is therefore important, says Fr. James Gilhooley, that we lives worthy of the risen Christ as we salute this sacred season. We must ensure that our genuine joy is not "make believe."

Divine Mercy, Forgiveness & Reconciliation

Several years ago, the Catholic Church declared the Sunday after Easter “Divine Mercy Sunday.” Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB explains that it is not really a new feast established to celebrate St. Faustina Kowalska’s (1905-1938) revelations. Rather Divine Mercy Sunday recovers an ancient liturgical tradition, reflected in a teaching attributed to St. Augustine about the Easter Octave, which he called "the days of mercy and pardon," and the Octave Day itself "the compendium of the days of mercy."

So what exactly is “mercy” anyway, and what does it have to do with the Easter season? Dr. Marcellino d'Ambrosio tells us that salvation begins now as we are released from the bonds of fear and anxiety by the forgiveness of our sins. Thus, Father Cusick proclaims, Confession is an Easter sacrament. Celebrate Easter, celebrate Confession.

As we ask God for forgiveness, we also are asked to forgive. Fr. Orlando Sapuay, MS says forgiveness is not something we do for other people. We do it for ourselves – to get well and to move on. To forgive is really to remember that love is more important than being right; that we have room in our hearts to begin again.

Baptism and Celebrating Eastertide

Eastertide, or the Easter Season, or Paschal Time, is the period of fifty days from Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday. For the early Christians, Easter was celebrated at high pitch for eight days, and then at a more moderate but still festive pace for another 42 days, till Pentecost. So quite appropriately, Joseph Sinasac reminds us that Easter is not a low-budget Christmas. It is in fact Easter that gives faith its meaning. Fr. Romy Seleccion, MS offers his "Ten Alleluias of the Resurrection," a wonderful reflection on the meaning of Easter.

Paul Dion, STL adds that it's the season of new life and vitality. This is the season when we revisit our Baptism and resurrect with Jesus into a new life. Thus, it's quite timely that we introduce this Baptism article from Msgr. Charles Pope. It is tragic to him as a Catholic priest that many parents bring their children to baptism almost as though baptism was no more than a flu shot: Take it and forget it.

Observing Mass & Confessing Contraception

The Church teaches that artificial birth control is seriously sinful. Yet, Msgr. Owen F. Campion observes, many Catholics never confess using artificial birth control. Maybe because they have convinced themselves that the Church is wrong. He urges those who have thusly sinned to Confess the use of contraception to their priests.

Is Mass boring to you? If so, be reminded that Holy Mass is about love, says Bishop Javier Echevarría Rodríguez, prelate of Opus Dei. He continues, "You say the Mass is long and, I add, because your love is short." And continuing on this topic, we thought it appropriate to bring back a 2005 interview with Cardinal Francis Arinze who said, "The Mass is a moment of reflection and encounter with God, rather than a form of entertainment."

We also would like to introduce our new ParishWorld blog "For the Catholic Holy Mass." We've been compiling this as a resource that aims to give our Catholics a better understanding of the miracle that transpires each time we celebrate Mass.

Easter, Fate & Predetermination

You will be touched by "Do you believe in Easter?" It's the story of Edith Burns, a woman dying of cancer in a hospital who everyone fondly called Easter Edith.

Plus here's a story in time for Divine Mercy Sunday. An abortionist doctor has turned to the Divine Mercy. He used to perform abortions. Now, Dr. John Bruchalski's mission is to help spread the message of Divine Mercy through his medical practice.

Finally, from our ParishWorld "For Catholic Teens" blog, Joe Martinez writes "Is God Crossing my Stars?" A Quick Question on Fate and Predestination (For Teens!)

Another eventful week in our Catholic world. Have a great and blessed new week.

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

BURNING QUESTION: Is Jesus and God the same?
FEATURED BLOG: Divine Mercy Sunday and the Sacrament of Reconciliation
PASTORAL HISPANA: El título de la Misericordia Divina
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